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Government set to quadruple speeding fines

By raccars Published

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The government has confirmed that it intends to change the legislation around motoring offences, which will mean the maximum fine for speeding on motorways will increase to £10,000 from the current level of £2,500. On other roads, speeding fines will also see a four-fold increase, from £1,000 to £4,000. Other motoring offences, such as using a hand-held mobile while driving, will also see fines quadrupled. Various motoring groups have united to condemn the level of increases, calling them 'disproportionate and draconian'. Some organisations have also pointed out that the new fine levels could undermine the justice system, dissuading potentially innocent motorists from challenging wrongful convictions.

The legislative changes will also see magistrates able to hand down unlimited fines for the first time for more serious offences. These would include crimes like careless driving or driving without insurance. Commenting on the Government’s thinking behind the changes, justice minister, Jeremy Wright, insisted that setting financial penalties at the right level was effective, punishing offenders and dissuading them from repeat offending. He also pointed out that the Magistrate's court was a vital part of the British justice system and the proposed changes would empower them to more effectively deal with everyday offences that blight local communities.

Director of the RAC Foundation, Professor Stephen Glaister, questioned the need for such dramatic changes. He said: "People who break the law should bear the consequences but this seems such a wholesale change to the system, so you have to ask what was going so badly wrong before? Ironically we know that speeding offences have declined over recent years and just last week, the Department for Transport confirmed that even after taking congestion out of the equation, recorded traffic speeds have been dropping for a decade on most types of roads."

Despite the concerns of motoring organisations, a Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed that the legislation required to raise the fines has already been laid in Parliament. It will be the first time that the penalty structure has been changed since 1991.

The increase in motoring fines is part of a far wider plan to overhaul fining powers in lower courts. Under the new regime, offences will be divided into five categories of seriousness, each attracting its own level of fines. In each case, fines have been quadrupled. On the most serious level, magistrates will have the power to impose unlimited fines. Because supporting legislation allowing increased fines in Magistrates' courts has already been passed by Parliament, it is thought the changes could be introduced quickly.

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